The Republics of Togo, Niger and Benin received a total invoice of N32.04bn for the electricity supplied to them from Nigeria in 2019, data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission have shown.
Nigeria, through some of its power plants, sell electricity to the neighbouring countries, which are classified as international customers in the Nigerian power sector.
Niger’s power firm, Societe Nigerienne d’electricite, received a total invoice of N3.01bn for electricity supply from Nigeria in the first quarter of 2019; N3.69bn in Q2; N4.1bn in Q3; and N2.07 in Q4.
Communaute Electrique du Benin, a power firm owned by Togo and Benin, received a total invoice of N9.74bn for the power supplied to it in Q1; N7.16bn in Q2; and N2.27bn in Q3 but none in Q4.
According to NERC’s quarterly reports, the international customers did not make any payments in each of the four quarters of last year.
“During the quarter under review, the special and international class of customers made no payment to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc and the Market Operator,” NERC said in its fourth-quarter report.
It said the invoice issued to Ajaokuta Steel Co. Ltd (designated as a special customer) and the international customers stood at N29.50m and N2.07bn respectively.
“The Federal Government has continued to engage the governments of neighbouring countries benefitting from the export supply to ensure timely payments for the electricity purchased from Nigeria,” the regulator added.
The immediate past Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, Mr Usman Mohammed, told our correspondent in March this year that power supply to Benin and Togo was disconnected in October 2019 because of the non-payment of the outstanding debt.
According to him, the amount of electricity being sold to international customers is around 300 megawatts, with Togo being supplied by Calabar Power Plant; Benin by Paras Energy & Natural Resources Development Limited; and Niger by Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited.
The government-owned NBET buys electricity in bulk from generation companies through Power Purchase Agreements and sells through vesting contracts to the Discos, which then supply it to the consumers, while the MO is an arm of the Transmission Company of Nigeria.
According to NERC, the financial viability of the Nigerian electricity supply industry is still a major challenge threatening its sustainability.
It said, “As highlighted in the preceding quarterly reports, the liquidity challenge is partly due to the non-implementation of cost-reflective tariffs, high technical and commercial losses exacerbated by energy theft and consumers’ apathy to payments under the widely prevailing practice of estimated billing.
“The severity of the liquidity challenge in the industry was reflected in the settlement rates of the energy invoices issued by NBET to each of the Discos, as well as the non-payment by the special and international customers.”